The Best Patty Melt Recipe
What separates a good patty melt from a great one? Attention to detail, the right ingredients, and a little TLC. Keep reading for what might be the best patty melt recipe ever.
Patty melts combine the best of both worlds: They’re a mashup of both a hamburger and a sandwich. But not only that – you get the extra deliciousness of buttery grilled bread, melty Swiss cheese, and sweet-savory caramelized onions.
Want to learn how to make the best patty melts ever? Keep reading.
The History Of The Patty Melt Sandwich
The patty melt sandwich originated in La Brea, California, in the late 1940s or early 1950s, when diner owner William Wallace “Tiny” Naylor put the iconic American sandwich on the menu.
The original version is similar to what most people know the patty melt to be today: A beef patty topped with grilled or caramelized onions, melted Swiss cheese, and served between slices of marbled rye bread.
The ingredients are individually prepped, the sandwiches are assembled and are then grilled on the stovetop in the same way a grilled cheese sandwich is made.
How To Make The Best Patty Melt Recipe
This isn’t just hyperbole: Following this recipe + methods, these patty melts stand out from the rest. These were the best patty melts I’ve ever eaten.
There are several essential elements and tricks to creating this iconic sandwich at home. Let’s go through them.
Marbled rye is the preferred bread for the best patty melt recipe. The bread’s malty flavor adds unique flavor to the sandwich, beyond what you’ll get with white or wheat bread.
Can you use another kind of bread? Certainly. But it won’t be as tasty as a patty melt made with fresh marbled rye, generously slathered with butter and grilled on the stovetop.
Swiss cheese is the classic patty melt cheese. It’s sweet and mild flavor, combined with its meltability makes it an ideal cheese for grilled sandwiches.
I like to purchase thin sliced Swiss cheese from the deli section of the grocery store instead of buying a pre-packaged. This is generally a cheaper option, it’s fresher – and you get to choose how much you want.
For extra cheesiness, use two slices of Swiss cheese.
Most diners fill their patty melts will grilled onions.
This is fine, but grilled onions pale in comparison to their sweet, buttery caramelized counterparts.
If you have the time, it’s worth it to make caramelized onions. Since making caramelized onions takes awhile, I like to make extras and keep them in the freezer.
To make caramelized onions: Peel and thinly slice onions. Place in a large frying pan over medium-low heat with butter. Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add sugar and salt. Continue cooking for another 30 or so, stirring occasionally, until onions are nicely caramelized. Full recipe, below.
I like to use 85% lean ground beef for patty melts, seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Worcestershire sauce.
You can cook the hamburger patties to your desired doneness on the stovetop or grill.
Pro tip: Shape the burger patty roughly into the shape of your bread. This will help ensure that every bite contains some hamburger.
The Cooking Method
Patty melts are grilled on the stovetop, just as you would make a grilled cheese. I like to use a generous amount of butter on the outside of the bread, spread all the way to the corners so each bite is buttery and toasted.
Cook just over medium heat and watch the sandwiches closely to avoid burning.
What Kind Of Sauce Goes On A Patty Melt?
Sauce makes any burger or sandwich better. For a patty melt, a tangy and slightly sweet sauce is a nice counterpart to an otherwise heavy sandwich. A variety of sauces will work:
- Thousand Island dressing (the traditional option)
- All-purpose dipping sauce
- BBQ sauce
- Creamy BBQ sauce (a mix of mayo and BBQ sauce)
- Homemade burger sauce
Serve with some sweet pickles on the side, and you’re well on your way to enjoying the best patty melts ever!
View this Google Web Story on making a really good patty melt.
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- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt and pepper
For caramelized onions
- 4 large white onions
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 slices marbled rye bread
- 1/4 cup butter
- 8 slices Swiss cheese
- For caramelized onions: Peel onions, cut in half, and thinly slice into half-moons. Place onions and butter in a large frying pan. Turn on heat to medium, and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. At this point, add sugar and salt. Continue cooking for 30 or more minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are nicely caramelized.
- To make hamburger patties: Place ground beef in bowl. Add spices and seasonings and mix to incorporate. Divide meat into 4 equal portions. Shape roughly into the shape of the bread. Fry hamburgers over medium-high heat until desired doneness (medium, medium-rare, etc.) Remove from pan and set aside.
- To assemble sandwiches: Butter one side of each slice of bread generously with butter. On each sandwich, layer 1 slice of cheese, hamburger patty, caramelized onions, 1 more slice of cheese, and top slice of bread.
- To grill sandwiches: Set large frying to just over medium heat. Place each sandwich in the pan and grill for 2 to 3 minutes on one side, watching closely to avoid burning. Flip and grill for another 2 minutes or so to toast bread. Remove from heat, slice and half, and serve with sweet pickles and your choice of dipping sauce.